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Brave French position in the times of conflict

A strong diplomatic standoff is on between France on one side and the Assad regime, Iran and Russia on the other

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

A strong diplomatic standoff is on between France on one side and the Assad regime, Iran and Russia on the other. Despite all the threats it has faced, the French government continues to hold ground and expresses its solidarity with the Syrian people who have been abandoned by most international powers.

Russia has criticized France’s opposition to the attack, siege and displacement of millions of Syrians, as part of the war on terrorism, and has questioned the reasons behind protests against their plans in Syria. Russians believe that France is not only standing against them but against entire Europe.

The French draft resolution that called for the cessation of bombing in Aleppo, and which was vetoed by the Russians, led to a verbal duel between ambassadors of member countries of the Security Council last week. It was not the only move made by the French government. France has been sponsoring resolutions on Syria since the conflict started and has been supporting reconciliation efforts being made by the coalition.

Around the same time, France also became the biggest target of terrorist operations. Activities of ISIS demonstrate as if the group is looking to help Assad and the Iranians, since it is targeting countries that have stood against the crimes of the Syrian regime and its allies.

France is playing a key role in the Syrian conflict at a time when most countries have preferred to avoid confrontation

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

However, despite the recurrence of bloody terrorist attacks on its soil, France hasn’t come under pressure and continues to vote against the brutal war waged against the Syrian people. France has also faced an internal crisis that is no less dangerous. There has been a rise in race crime against foreigners and French citizens of Islamic origins. This is being fueled by the crimes committed by terrorist organizations linked to the Syrian crisis and by the flood of immigrants to Western Europe from Syria and other countries.

Diplomatic campaign

On the political and diplomatic levels, the French government is leading a campaign to hold accountable the countries involved in the siege and destruction of Aleppo and other Syrian cities. France wants to prosecute the countries and forces committing war crimes and wants to push international institutions to act against them. These issued have been dragging on for years and we should appreciate what the French government is making these efforts.

Their fair and equitable policy on the Syrian crisis is in addition to their position against the Assad regime in Lebanon. France supported late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and the French position became crucial when Hariri was assassinated reportedly by the Assad regime.

All French presidents have generally adopted this approach, except Sarkozy, who tried to enhance Assad’s image with the cooperation of some regional powers, but eventually failed. Some may believe that the French approach is not enough to change the situation on the ground as they do not see France as important and powerful as the United States and Russia, the two main superpowers. However, despite all that, France is playing a key role in the Syrian conflict at a time when most countries have preferred to avoid confrontation.

If we take into consideration the breach and violation of values and international laws by Assad’s allies, we will find that the French stance is important. We can only hope that such stances will get us to a reasonable political solution. The Iranian-Russian war in Syria has failed so far in ending the revolution of the Syrian people.

It has failed to maintain the rule of Assad over Syria and not even in half of the Syrian territories that are now under his rule. They can only rely on a country like France, supporting a political solution to drive them out of this quagmire.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Oct. 14, 2016.
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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.